Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Observations: Penguins 3, Bruins 2
By James Murphy
Within a span of 51 seconds in the third period, the Bruins had their chance to take over first place in the Eastern Conference and the Northeast Division snatched away from them by the Penguins. Chris Kunitz and Brandon Sutter scored two quick goals to erase a 2-0 Bruins lead before Sutter finished off the comeback by scoring his second of the game with 2:03 left in regulation to give the Penguins a 3-2 win in Pittsburgh.
Boston had the perfect road game going after they got two first-period goals from Zdeno Chara and Tyler Seguin. But even as the Penguins swarmed and gained momentum, Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin was up to the task, stopping chance after chance. But Pittsburgh eventually broke through, leaving the Bruins to head back to Boston trailing both the Canadiens and Penguins by a point in the conference standings.
Fatigue a factor, but sloppy defense continues -- Over the course of their last seven games, the Bruins' defense as a whole has been erratic at best. With the exception of their 3-0 win over the Flyers last Saturday and their 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs last Thursday, the Bruins have struggled to gain control in their zone and make clean breakouts. The forwards aren’t coming back to help and the defenseman -- specifically Adam McQuaid and Andrew Ference -- are scrambling and making desperate or rushed clearing passes. The result has been three blown third-period leads (vs. Montreal, at Washington, at Pittsburgh). Yes, the Bruins had to be tired by the third period in this one playing back-to-back nights, but the trend started before this game.
Khudobin deserved better -- Khudobin (31 saves) played by far his best game in a Bruins uniform and deserved a better fate. The Bruins backup did all he could to stop the waves of offense that started to roll in as the game wore on. He didn’t seem fazed by the Penguins' high-powered offensive weapons, again showing he can be counted on to spell Tuukka Rask against any team.
Seguin scores in dirty area again -- Seguin has four goals in his last four games, and while that is a great sign that he is finding his scoring touch after a slow start, the way he's doing it is even more encouraging. Seguin is going to the net and into traffic, showing that he will sacrifice for his goals or to create opportunities for his teammates, which has to thrill coach Claude Julien. Julien has done a great job of pulling Seguin's game in from the perimeter and it's paying off.
PK and PP get the job done --Heading into the game, the Penguins were third in the NHL on the power play, but the Bruins are the best penalty kill in the NHL. Boston killed off four Pittsburgh power plays, including a 5-on-3 early in the third period. It was the Bruins' power play that lit the lamp as Chara scored his goal on the man-advantage. The Bruins were 1-for-2 on the power play.
Kelly out, Pandolfo in -- With Chris Kelly suffering a knee injury Monday in the 3-2 shootout win at Ottawa, Jay Pandolfo was back on the third line with Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron. Peverley took over at center for Kelly with Pandolfo on the left wing and Caron on the right. There is no timetable on Kelly’s return or even an exact diagnosis of the injury as the team waits for the swelling to go down.
Here’s what the lineup looked like:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Jay Pandolfo-Rich Peverley-Jordan Caron
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Dougie Hamilton
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid